Are you hyperaware?
“Two things are now simultaneously true: Crime is at or near historic lows, and the average person can now be fed a stream of every single 911 call in the most populous city in the United States. We are in a new era of hyperawareness, and perception is now trumping reality in a powerful new way.”
That’s a quote from an interesting BuzzFeed News article
about the effect real-time awareness of crimes as they happen has on our perception of the crime rate. I like that term ‘hyperawareness,’ because it applies more broadly, too.
Thanks to push notifications from breaking news apps, and the fact I check Twitter far too often, I feel like I’m hyperaware about political news. It can be draining to soak up every little quote, mis-quote, slip-up, rumour, and announcement — especially when most of it won’t be relevant for the rest of the day, let alone next week or next month.
As Zeynep Tufekci wrote about that article
, “The only thing here is a clickbait headline trying to go viral on Twitter/Facebook. tl;dr they used Twitter for an inappropriate purpose (teaching literary analysis!) and surprise, surprise it didn’t fare as well as an appropriate method (proper classroom instruction.)”
The lesson here is it’s not tweets — or indeed real-time updates in general — that are eroding our intelligence. If anything’s harming us it’s the way we use these products.
Lightly skimming real-time information can be useful. but don’t fool yourself that gorging on as many updates as you can is a valid alternative to taking time to properly understand something.
As we come up to the middle of 2019, I’m setting myself a mid-year resolution (yes, that’s a thing because I made it up) to read with less breadth and more depth. That includes allowing fewer news alerts on my phone and paying less attention to the nuggets of information scrolling down my screen in TweetDeck.
You can’t know everything, and you shouldn’t. So let’s end the blight of hyperawareness.